Attorneys Leigh Fletcher and Tina Fischer handle real estate, land use and environmental law from the fourth floor of the old McCrory building in downtown St. Pete. Their firm is successful, and has been successful for years – but at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough.
Introducing the Rising Tide Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art, 8,000 square foot co-working space. The fourth floor of 433 Central Avenue – which includes the offices of Fletcher and Fischer, P.L. – and the third floor have been fully fitted with large, medium and small offices, conference rooms, dedicated and temporary workspaces and more, in a sleek and professional steel, glass and wood motif. The Internet is ultra high speed, the chairs are comfortable and the coffee is hot.
A rising tide, as the saying goes, lifts all boats.
“We could be a traditional law firm,” Fletcher explains, “but we believe that if you help people and their businesses grow, collectively we all do better. We all do better when we support each other. That’s kind of a basic, fundamental belief.”
The Connecticut-based tech firm iSocrates has relocated to Rising Tide. “They called and said ‘Hey, we need three fairly large offices, and a co-work space with a shared conference room and some video capabilities. Can you do that?’”
Yes, Fletcher and Fischer replied. Yes, we can.
Other member-residents include WB3 Tech, attorney Linda Friedman Ramirez, consultant Mario Farias and the corporate offices of Doggery Craft Ice.
Rising Tide’s grand opening and ribbon-cutting took place May 16, and more than 200 people attended. Word is getting out. Ultimately, says Fletcher, the space will also provide workshops, training and collaborative events.
WB3 Tech, for example, is already helping their law firm build its front of house online membership portal; in return, Fletcher and Fischer are doing some legal work for the tech company. “We’re trying to create this environment where you bring your skills to the group, and formally or informally you help each other get to the next level,” Fletcher says. “So that’s kind of the mission behind it.”
Leigh Fletcher and Tina Fischer began their firm in one of downtown Tampa’s many impersonal high rise office buildings. When lease renewal time came, they put their heads together: There was no actual reason to stay in Tampa. Most of their clients were in other parts of the country.
They felt isolated and alone. “For five years we were closeted in our offices in that high rise,” Fischer offers. “Granted, it was very nice. The offices were lovely. But the highlight of our day was when the UPS man, or the mailman, came in. Because nobody ever came into our office. And we are social people.”
Fischer and several other members of their team already lived across the bay in St. Pete. So when the 4th floor of the McCrory building became available, it seemed like a no-brainer. St. Pete, Fletcher says, is a much cooler place to work.
“On top of that, it’s actually a lot of fun to be around the energy and the excitement of people starting businesses, and having dreams and actuating what they want to do. As entrepreneurs ourselves who have walked this path and been successful at it, it’s a high to be around that. I’m not going to lie.”
They relocated in September of ’17, during the week of Hurricane Irma, and began planning the Rising Tide Innovation Center. The third floor wasn’t part of the original plan; it became vacant this spring. That’s when their plans went into high gear.
Of course, Rising Tide isn’t the only co-working space in town. They’ve thought that through.
“The Doyenne does great pop-up stuff, and that gives you a new environment every day,” Fletcher says. “It’s a mixed thing. Station House has all the social and club amenities kind of built into it. Tech Garage is an incubator. Greenhouse has tons and tons of training. So everybody has their niche, and it’s all compatible.
“So we’re the right place for people who have either existing businesses, or are starting businesses, that need real office space. They need to be in a place where they can have professional meetings, they can present a face to the world that says ‘I’m a very successful professional in an office.’
“We give them the ability to do that with a phone line, a business address and conference room space that is comparable to anything that you’d get in any kind of corporate high rise situation.”
The partners welcome any prospective members who’d like to tour the facility. “What we want,” Fletcher says, “is for people to come in and say ‘This is my space. This is where I need to be.’ Because we’re trying to create a community of people who want to come to work every day.”
Fischer agrees. “We want people who really want to be here,” she emphasizes. Because we want to be here.”
Visit the Rising Tide Innovation Center website here, or call (727) 877-8230.